Troops likely to be engaged in promoting literacy
* Senate body concerned over slow progress on literacy
* Education minister asks religious parties to establish their private board
ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s standing committee on education has expressed concern at the slow progress of improving literacy rates in the country.
Senator Razina Alam Khan, the committee’s chairperson, told Daily Times that the committee had discussed measures to improve literacy rates in a meeting on Monday. The committee was concerned at a lack of funds for the ‘education for all’ programme, she said, adding it had proposed three percent of the budget for the education sector.
Lt General (r) Javed Ashraf Qazi, federal education minister, proposed the idea of engaging army troops to improve literacy rate and told the participants that President General Pervez Musharraf had approved the idea. The committee decided to move a resolution in the Senate for the projects approval. The minister told the committee that the first pilot project would start for a period of three months. After parliament’s approval, junior commissioned officers of the army would establish early and adult literacy centres in villages aligned to garrison areas.
The minister told the meeting that each army unit could be given tasks for three months to establish literacy centres in five selected areas of adjacent villages.
The next three months would be assigned to another unit to improve literacy and the scheme would continue in other provinces, including FATA and FANA, until there was a 100 percent literacy rate in the country, he said. This could be accomplished before 2015, the minister added.
Qazi said manual and literacy kits were available to the army as they had been used to educate illiterate soldiers upon their recruitment. If the idea was supported by parliament and political parties, senior military officials would be contacted to implement it, he said.
Engaging the army would lessen the country’s financial burdens, he said, adding the will of political parties was required to make the programme successful.
The committee was briefed on reforms in the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE) regarding the introduction of examination systems to replace the traditional cramming culture.
The minister told the committee that 60 private schools out of 63,000 were granted voluntary affiliation with the Aga Khan Board (AKB), which would take its first examinations in 2007 following the training of teachers regarding the format of questions.
In light of strong opposition from Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) committee members regarding the formation of the AKB, the minister invited the MMA to establish a board of their choice in the private sector on par with the AKB.